life on pine

how to: hike the patagonia w trek

Kate Parrish
hiking the patagonia w trek

In December 2014 we hiked the Patagonia W trek in Torres del Paine National Park and it was such a unique and gorgeous experience – when we arrived I immediately knew we'd be back. Since then i've had quite a few friends ask for tips on the logistics for this confusing travel experience, which is what inspired this post. For more photos from our trip check out the blog posts and video, and here's how to make this trip happen:


  • Visa: nothing is needed before you leave, however you may have to purchase a visa at the airport 
  • Cash: have plenty on hand before you leave [they do not accept Argentinean pesos in Chile so you'll need to have both] there are no ATMs and cash is crucial
  • Seasons: the park is open all year round, however the best season to visit is from October to April – Spring and Summer. We were there in late December. You'll have more sunny days with less rain and more than 16 hours of natural light [the sun went down at 10pm!] 
  • Bus Tickets: buy in advance wherever possible. If you're not able to, be at the bus station when they open
  • Book lodging in advance [by up to 6 months]: while the campgrounds are much easier to reserve, the refugios do book up quickly 


  • Fly to Buenos Aires 
  • Fly to  El Calafate [3 hour from BA]
  • Bus from El Calafate to Puerto Natales [5 hours]
    • Purchase your tickets ahead of time here
  • Bus to Torres Del Paine National Park [3+ hours]
    • Buy a round trip at the bus station in Puerto Natales ticket so that you will have a way to get home after your trek 

The w trek offers both camping and refugios [small dorm like cabins] – depending on your preference.  They will provide your food and drinks if you choose "full room and board"

  • El Calafate: La Cantera Boutique Hotel
  • Puerto Natales: We are Patagonia [if you're on a budget] The Singular [if you're splurging]
  • W Treak Night 1: El Chileno refugio is tucked alongside a flowing river and is one of the coziest spots on the trek, sleeping is hostel style with a bunk bed in a room of 8+ 
  • W Treak Night 2: Cabanas los cuernos (they offer private cabins and have a hot tub!) or  dome frances, a bit further down the trail and is where we stayed (great food and gets you a head start for the next day)
  • W Treak Night 3: Refugio paine grande one of the bigger refugios with a full bar and private rooms 
  • W Treak Night 4: Vertice grey shelter gets you right up to the glacier grey, and has an epic front deck

We were there in summer and the weather changed almost every hour– you need to be prepared for everything.